Air Force veteran and professional photographer Tara Ruby heard about a new nursing room at Fort Bliss and offered to donate photographs to decorate the space with portraits of uniformed soldiers breastfeeding their children.
In a post at CNN, Ruby said, "I thought it was be nice to offer some photographs as an additional show of support. Seeing a picture like that helps mothers understand they can be an active soldier and provide support to their children."
She got all the necessary approvals from the brass, put out the word and ten women showed up with their babies for last Thursday's photo shoot. She was excited by the results and posted the above photo to her business Facebook page on Thursday night. By Friday morning, it had disappeared from her page and from the page of everyone who shared it. Ruby reposted the image and it had been shared over 4,000 times.
Of course, a few civilians freaked out and complained about the "professionalism" of women soldiers who would participate in the photo shoot and act like nursing a child is a normal, non-sexual activity.
Ruby insists that the Army's support for nursing mothers is just good policy. "Practically speaking, it's a matter of retention," she said: "Mothers need support so they don't have to choose between family and service."
Bill Costlow, the Chief of Garrison7 Community Engagement for the Army Installation Management Command, tells Military.com that the photo shoot is a "big deal internally." He added, "This would normally be thought of as a uniform discrepancy. But here we have mothers being allowed to breast feed in uniform. There’s so many things that you’re not allowed to do in uniform … and you’ve got to figure that the average military person or retiree, that they all grew up with those things.”
Give us your thoughts. Is there even anything to discuss here? Is the photo just another reflection of normal life in our all-volunteer military? Or is there something about women soldiers breastfeeding their babies that makes anyone around here uncomfortable? Sound off!